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Showcasing DWU with 'Spiders in the Night'

"Spiders in the Night" is the trifecta of the Dakota Wesleyan University theater department. The original drama, which premieres today at 7:30 p.m. is saturated with the efforts of DWU personnel, from faculty members to students--past and present...

Sig Anderson (Daniel Miller) talks with daughter Antonia Anderson (Madison Miller) at the table while daughter Virginia Mynn (Marian Ragles) looks on during a rehearsal of "Spiders in the Night" on Tuesday at the Patten-Wing Theatre. (Kella Rodiek/Republic)
Sig Anderson (Daniel Miller) talks with daughter Antonia Anderson (Madison Miller) at the table while daughter Virginia Mynn (Marian Ragles) looks on during a rehearsal of "Spiders in the Night" on Tuesday at the Patten-Wing Theatre. (Kella Rodiek/Republic)

"Spiders in the Night" is the trifecta of the Dakota Wesleyan University theater department.

The original drama, which premieres today at 7:30 p.m. is saturated with the efforts of DWU personnel, from faculty members to students-past and present. The play was written by 1999 DWU graduate James Van Oort, of Mitchell, and is directed by DWU senior Ian Hyde. Its cast list is entirely DWU theater majors, with one exception: Daniel Miller, associate professor and director of theater at DWU.

"We wanted an all-DWU production to really showcase what we do here," Miller said.

For Hyde, a first-time director, being in charge of his professor has been a bit unnerving, he said.

"It's tough directing your director," Hyde said. "He's been doing this longer than I've been alive. It's been tough, but it's been rewarding, and you can see that it's really worked out in the end."

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Hyde added his appreciation for the rich bank of wisdom available through Miller. Miller, in turn, expressed pride in the work done by his student.

As for Van Oort, Hyde said the playwright's perspective has been another valuable resource.

"Ultimately, I was at the helm of the ship ... but James was great," Hyde said. "Sometimes there were things in the script where if it just wasn't working, we could change the line. He'd give input sometimes, but it was my direction."

The set, which has three distinct scenes, a shed, a living room/kitchen and an attic, was a collaborative effort of DWU theater majors for its design and construction.

"Spiders in the Night" tells the story of a father and his dysfunctional relationship with his three daughters.

The intense drama progresses as the father, played by Miller, tries to reconnect with his daughters while attempting to make amends for the damage he caused through a marriage filled with secrets, sorrow and an eventual divorce, followed by the death of the girls' mother.

"He was a pretty bad father and a bad husband, but it's later in his life and he's really just trying to fix their relationship before it's too late," Hyde said. "It's this poor man trying to win back the love of his daughters."

Hyde said respondents from other college theater departments will be at the show to evaluate the performance and recommend its approval to a regional board for participation in the Kennedy Center Area Community Theatre Festival in February in Minneapolis.

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"So it's really exciting, we've never really had a chance at this before," he said.

Show performances are at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Patten-Wing Theatre on the DWU campus. Tickets can be purchased at the door and are $7 for general admission and $5 for DWU faculty, staff and students.

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